I hadn’t posted much for a few days. So I thought I would just start randomly typing and see what happens.
When I was on Doulos, with working in the Deck and all, I had to learn a few knots. Just simple ones. I’d always liked knots, and all sailory (nautical is a better word, isn’t it…) things, but had never been particually good at remembering them. I’d always learned them before in situations where someone showed me the knot, and then I had a few minutes to practice with about 6 other people all wanting the same rope, and then no chance to try again for weeks and weeks. Well, on Doulos, we had to use these basic knots every day, and funnily enough, I learned them quite quickly. Like this first knot, the “Bowline” (pronounced bo-lin). It’s called this because apparently some time in the depths of time, for some reason lost in the bowels of obscurity, they used this knot to tie the bow (the front) of a boat, or ship, to whatever they needed to tie it to. The dock, presumably. And for some other weird reason, almost all ropes are called “lines” by nautical people, whenever the rope has a use.
When we loaded (or unloaded) things from the Ship using the crane, we always tied another rope from the item being loaded (or unloaded), which would then be held quite tight to make sure the item didn’t swing around in the wind, or crash into things. This rope is called a “Messenger Line”. Sometimes we used 2 messenger lines, for big things (like the Doulos mini-vans, which had to be loaded and unloaded at every port.) Funnily enough, we actually used that knot (the Bowline) to attach a messenger line to the object being loaded (or unloaded).
Here is another picture. This is a knot which is in fact, a bowline, but so modified that it has become absurd, and no one would ever use such a knot. It does look kind of pretty though, I guess…
Working on Deck, I began to really like knots a lot, and when I got back to Larnaka I went and bought a small ammount of rope, and have been practicing knots and such, and inventing crazy things with them and all. Like that monstrocity here. Terrible, isn’t it.
My father just saw a [mirror dinghy] advertived on a notice board in the local supermarket… not very expensive, either. Second hand. My father and I have wanted for ages to get a small boat. So. We will see what happens…
Oh, by the way. I have started contacting the Doulos people again, to begin attempting to apply to join them again. And next week I will be speaking in church about my experiences on the Doulos over the last 2 months. Should be fun. Again, we will see what happens…
I just realised that I forgot to post about my trip back to Larnaka…
I spent most of the day that I left in packing, wandering around slightly disconsolately, wondering what I had forgottern, sorting out other peoples stuff which they had left in the cabin, and finishing off packing stuff myself. I had already agreed to take presents back for 2 people on board to supporters or friends in Cyprus, and 2 other people brought stuff to me randomly during the day and said “would it be OK for you to take this back with you? I know this guy in Cyprus who I met while in port there and would love to send them this gift…” Anyway. I also had random things to clear up, like I took some old sunglasses up to the Creative Ministries Office, they always want more sunglasses as props and costumes, and all that. I had a childrens activies/crafts book which I had be loaned before Sabbath Week which I needed to take back, and so on and so forth. So many things to do.
The last of the STEPPERs ate together with our STEP mum for our final meal ( lunch ) on board. The 2 SP-STEPPERs, one Swiss girl, and myself. Our Albanian STEPPER had somehow managed to go on overnight, and had been gone the last 2 days or so, and none of us knew when she would actually arrive back to Doulos, or when her flight was!
Anyway, we were told what time the minibus would leave. At half an hour before that time, I had most of my stuff packed, but not all, and was slowly going about the cabin finding other random things to pack, sorting out clothes and things to take to Charlie, and so on.
Suddenly I realised that I was supposed to go to the quayside earlier than that, in order to say goodbye to people! And worse yet, I needed to go to the loo before leaving! So I quickly rushed to the loo, washed my hands, rushed out again, and picked up my bags, and found that I had forgotten to pack my washing bag, with toothbrush and all, so I collected that, and packed it, then saw on my bunk that I hadn’t packed some other things, so I packed them, looked at my watch, was shocked, saw loads of things in my drawer that I needed to either pack or send to Charlie, and then heard my name being paged on the info system! So I picked up all my bags, and then thought “Oh, yeah, I’d better phone them back!” So I phoned info: “Hi, this is Daniel, I’m on my way! Sorry!” they started laughing, so I hung up the phone, and struggled out and up the stairs towards the prom deck and gangway.
Thankfully, another friendly Deckie saw me, and offered to carry my bag for me, so I could just cope with my hand-luggage, and with the weighing scales that I had borrowed from info to weigh my bags. Which reminded me, I needed to take them back to info! So I changed direction, and we headed up to info. I gave them the scales, and clambered out of the door to the other gangway.
Someone else had offered to carry my handluggage too, but it was that terrible backpack which I had just fixed with the sewing kit, and I didn’t want to take it on and off my back more than I had to. I had a 30 second argument about this with him, he claiming that I would be offending his culture if I didn’t let him carry it for me, which was nonsense. Well, perhaps not nonsense. His culture might be offended, but he wouldn’t. He had been on Doulos so long that you’d have to punch him on the nose to offend him. And his culture wasn’t there to get offended anyway. So I let him carry the scales for me. That seemed to make him happy, anyway.
So I got to the gangway, and all the others were already in the minibus, which was running and the driver wandering around looking distracted “You’re late!” he shouted. “I know!” I replied.
All of my Deck team were there, and decided that now was the best time for a group hug, deckie style, which I believe is an ancient ritual inspired by snakes, boa constrictors on acid or something like that. So once I could breath again, I hugged all the other random people on the quayside, creative ministries people, friends, people I had worked with other than the deckie team, my twin (who gave me a red hand-made goodbye card with a canada pin on it), and so on.
The minibus was at the gate and honking by this time, so I took the parcels from the STEP mum for me to add to my bag, and ran over and jumped in. We zoomed out at a terrible speed, I began to wonder if the driver had forgotten that we were supposed to go the airport before lift-off, narrowly missed a container-lorry, and headed for the airport.
It’s a 45 minute drive from the Doulos to the airport. I don’t think it took anything like so long.
I spent about half of it in attempting to remove my keys from a strip of elastic which I was using to hold them to my belt, in order for the driver to give back to our STEP mum. I could have given the elastic too, but I needed it for a belt-buckle, the belt looking silly and flapping around without it.
I hate belts.
When we got there, my STEP sister – who was leaving half an hour before me – and I checked in, went through to the departure lounge.
While checking in, the guy who checks the passports and tickets and that had never heard of Cyprus, I think, and wanted to know if I had a visa for there. I told him that Cyprus was in Europe, in the Union. Didn’t impress him much. I showed him my Alien Registration Certificate of Cyprus, from 7 or 8 years ago, before Cyprus joined, and he looked at my photo, and asked “Is this you?” I said yes. He pondered it for a while, then asked “Why did they put a picture in of when you were a baby?”. He asked if I wanted to collect my luggage in Jo’Burg, or if I wanted it to go strait through. I thought strait through, and so he put some LCA tags on the bag. I was a bit worried though, if this guy didn’t even know where Cyprus is, who knows where my luggage might end up!
It was odd being all alone, just 2 STEPPERs. We looked at some of the duty-free shops. Very expensive. So we sat down for a while, and talked about going back home, missing the others, and so on. I realised that I was still wearing my Doulos name badge, so took it off and put it in my belt-bag. She thought that was quite funny.
I like her a lot. When we first joined the STEP, she was very quiet, and almost withdrawn, but in the last week or so has been much more outgoing. She even punched me once, when I told a really bad joke. I would never have expected that after seeing her during the first week on board! It just takes a long time for some people to become comfortable with so many new people, I guess.
Her flight was called, so we hugged goodbye, and said “See you in Jo’burg!” and off she went.
I was sitting there, watching her go, talking to God, and feeling slightly lonely, when these two blokes came up to me, one of them in a black leather jacket, and the other one in a yellow t-shirt. They said they were airport staff doing a questionaire, and would I care to help them? I immediately went into paranoid Who-do-you-think-you-are-go-away-respect-my-privacy-mode, and said “Sure, how can I help you, Gentlemen?”.
Actually, I didn’t say that at all. I said “It depends” in my most non-committal voice, and moved my bag into a more secure place by my chair. I checked where all the security guards were too, and kept an eye on both of them the whole time, “Just wonderful!”, I was thinking, “Get as far as the airport and then get mugged! Great!” I didn’t tell them my sirname, and answered all the usual boring “how have you found service of the staff at Durban Airport?” and so on.. then he turned over the page, and the questions began to get slightly surreal.
“What have you learned during this interview?” he asked.
“Well, what have you learned from us, I guess?”
“Nothing really. You just came up and started asking me questions.”
“Oh.” he said. Slightly baffled.
Then he introduced himself, and his partner, and told me that I had now learned their names, and then I think he wrote down that I had learned their names, or something like that… Strange… Yellow T-shirt wandered off to get a drink or something. Then black-leather-jacket asked if I was from the Doulos. So I said yes, he brightened up and said that he knew some people from the Doulos, they had visited his church, a few weeks ago.
So we talked about church for a while, and about Doulos, and he gave me his number for if ever I am in Durban again. Then his friend came back, a bit puzzled that we were still doing the questionaire. It turned out that we had actually finished it, and he was now asking me questions from the post-interview staff-debriefing paper. That explained the strange questions! So they said goodbye, and wandered off. I sat around for a bit, and eventually my flight was called, so I got on the plane, and left Durban.
One Short Boring Flight Later…
Jo’Burg International! Very confusing airport. I got myself a muffin to eat, and some Biltong for my brother and father, in a sealed plastic container thingy with the last of my South African money, and attempted to find my way to the “International Transfers”, apparently different to “International Departures”. Some of the signs had it, others didn’t. Eventually, the signs pointed me down a dead end.
I went up to a South African Airlines desk and asked where on earth to go. The lady said “Ah, we haven’t finished building this part of the airport yet. The signs are all wrong. Just go out that door, and follow the signs for International Departures.” Oh.
So I went out the door, and was now outside the airport! Taxi’s went past me! This was a bit confusing, so I just followed the signs. I soon entered a large building, with hundreds of people and millions of signs pointing to all kinds of different boarding gates. I had no idea where to go at all. Then a strange man walked up to me and said “International flight?” so I said “yes” and he said “Follow me” and rushed off into the melee. So I followed him, cautiously, half expecting him to go down a small alley, and then for 30 huge men with stockings over their heads to jump out and try to steal my passport or something. Luckily, nothing like that happened, and he did lead me to the right place. It would have taken ages to find it myself. He did ask for a tip though, so I gave him one. I then went through the security checkpoint, and started heading for my gate. I then saw my STEP sister sitting reading! So I went up to her and said “Howzit?” or something like that. ( Howzit is the typical greeting in South Africa, by the way. ) She said “fine” and asked what time I was to check in. I didn’t know, so asked her what time she was checking in. She said about an hour. She told me I really ought to know what time I was checking in. So I checked my ticked and told her “About half an hour.”
“So you really ought to be checking in about now then?”
“I guess so.”
“Well, go check in then!”
So I did.
One Long Boring Flight Later…
Dubai! Dig that ultra Mod-Arab style thing, habibi! Yeah! Texted my parents again, to say I was safe, and waited for my next flight. Duty free food is a lot cheaper in Dubai than in Jo’Burg or Durbs. I got a bottle of water and a Bounty Chocolate/Ice-Cream bar for less than a single US Dollar. Nice.
One Medium-Length Boring Flight Later…
Larnaka! Home! My luggage did arrive safely, which is a good thing.
Small Important historical aside: About 2 weeks ago, I saw this quite cool Indiana-Jones/Explorer type hat at one of the stalls down by the Durban Sea-Front. I saw it and immediately thought “That’s just the sort of hat that my father would have always wanted, but never got around to buying because it is just silly and expensive and his mother would probably have disapproved.” And they were quite cheap. So I bought 2. One for him, and one for me as they are rather cool.
As I pushed my trolley through the slidey doors of Larnaka airport, I looked left, and there were my family to meet me! My younger brother with his hair cut, Mum with her hair looking approximately like it did in photos of her from 20 years ago, and …
Dad wearing one of those exact same hats!!!
Quite a strange feeling passed over me. Not sure whether to laugh or cry. I’ve felt like this a lot recently. So I did neither, but I did pray under my breath “OK, God. Very funny. What exactly are you teaching me this time?”.
It’s kind of semi-annoying, and yet quite personal and touching when God does this to me. He’s been doing things like this a lot. I go to a whole load of effort and get really worked up or excited about something, or do lots of planning, and then He goes right ahead and does something clever and shows me that I needn’t have gotten so worked up, or spent so much effort, and that He is in control anyway. So. There are 2 options. Either God is just having fun, and this is some kind of joke. Quite possible. I mean, we’re made in God’s image, and one of the elements that makes us human is humor… but it’s quite a worrying thought. The other option is that He is teaching me something. In fact, I’m sure He is teaching me something.
Hope I find out what, one of these days…
I greeted them quite enthusiastically, and they took that photo of me that got posted a few days ago, and we went home. Good to see them again. And the cats again too. And all of Larnaka.
Later, I gave my dad the hat, and told him where and why I had got it. And he said that yes, he had seen his in a cheap tourist shop and had thought that those were just the sort of hat that he would have always wanted, but never got around to buying because it is just silly and expensive and yes, his mother would probably have disapproved!
Here is a picture of that wee whaley thing we saw from up on the bridge, way back. Cute, inni?
A few people have suggested that I start formatting my blog and filling it out a bit, and turn it into a book, and try and get it published. So I went through and copied all the text into a [AbiWord] document, went through it all with the spell-checker (which I had to look at sternly and tell not to use American spellings…) and then did a word-count… 26839 words! Wow… I would never have expected that! Subtract a few hundred for headers and dates and all, and well. Yeah. That’s pretty good for a start. I’ll start tinkering with it soon, and adding anecdotes and all. Just random perhaps interesting stories. Like this one:
While I was on watch, the second time, more people would come and just chat to me, which was nice. It helped the time pass faster. Anyway, one of the guys who came up and chatted was a Project Worker (short termer, not a STEPPER, just came for a specific job or time or whatever), from Finland. We were talking about this one guy some of the ship’s company had met, who said he was British, on holiday on Durban, but had had his passport stolen, and now the British Embassy would not let him get a new one, as they had no proof that he was who he said he was. Not a fun situation. Anyway. Apparently, for Finnish people it is a lot easier, you can just walk into any Finnish Embassy, and get a new one just like that! I asked how this was possible, and he told me in his deep nasal voice “You just speak to them in Finnish. Anyone who speaks well Finnish must be from Finland. Nobody else can.” Ah. That explains it. Apparently also the government has some kind of way of validating it, perhaps with fingerprints or DNA or something as well… I could probably use this as a good excuse to rant on for a few pages about the horrors of Big Brother Is Watching You And Reading Your DNA. or something like that. But I wont. I mean, most people already have pretty strong opinions about it, one way or the other, and whatever I say will have no effect on them. Or on their opinions. I used to have so many random discussions and arguments with one of my cabinmates, who left earlier than the rest. The American Seminary-student. Man, that was fun. “What is the difference between ignorance and innocence? And which is the more blissful?” “How to respond to leadership, and disagreement-with leadership?” and so on, as well as all the usual ones , Speaking in Toungues, Church leadership structure, responce to disagreement with leadership, basis of faith, various cultural things, and so on. Lovely. We disagreed on so much! And at the same time had a similar view on many things. Yeah.
Here is a picture of the crowds in Nacala (the first port I visited, properly). It’s kind of amazing still to me how many people visited, even though it was such a poor port. Mind you, a lot of stuff was stolen at that port. There are normally tables of pens, key-chains, etc, with Doulos pictures on them, and although practically none were sold, the tables were almost empty by the end of the first day. We stopped selling them there after that. That’s enough for today. I’m still kind of settling back in to Cyprus, trying to get stuff organized, and all that.
In the words of one of the Douloids I met “I’m back! Sviss Power! Ja!” The middle bit doesn’t really make sense for me to say, about sviss power and all, but the “I’m back”bit and the “Ja” do. This is a photo my wee bro took of me at the airport, with me bag and other bag, which I repaired (and held out for the whole trip back!). Yeah. So, I’ll post about the wonderful trip home again soon, and have now allowed comments on the blog for everyone, so PLEASE leave comments! Oh, and I will be uploading many more pictures soon too, and continuing to blog, and talk about the trip and all, so don’t stop coming to this page, oh dedicated masses, but remember ye all to visit again whenst ye hath time or even forsooth, if havest ye not.
I’ve been doing loads of laundry… so many guests move in and out of my cabin and they forget to take their sheets to Laundry when they leave, so there was about 20 sheets, 9 pillow cases, and so on. About 20kg in all, I think. I also have given some towels to Charlie.
Anyway, I have added a few more things to my case, and one or two people want me to take things back to Cy for supporters and friends there… so I hope I have room!
Doulos is A.C to about 24 or so, and yet it feels like hard work here! I will go ask about flights now…
I’ve packed, at least mostly. And the main luggage is about 18 kg, w/o towels (which I may leave), and w/o todays clothes (all quite light, which is why I am packing them and not wearing them. Although I may pack my heavier ones since it is so low).
I have not actually re-confirmed my flights, but was told by someone else that the pursor may have done that. I was going to ask her today, but the office was shut. I hope it all turns out OK. Anyway, if the meals are meat, I shall just eat less (ie, that which is not meat) , and drink more fruit juice, which may be a good thing anyway.
I’m so tired today. We went out to a Zulu village/tourist thingy. Very cool, I guess, but living in Larnaka has made me so skeptical of Tourist things of any sort at all that I enjoyed it less than the others. Oh well.
There was a crocodile park there as well… they have well over 50 crocs, in various places, and we had dinner there as well. They had this thing they called “The Fear Factor Challenge”, which was basically they put out some tables in one of the croc. compounds, and the people who wanted to could sit at the tables and eat crocodile kebabs with nothing between them and the crocs, and 1 guard standing there with a stick to point the crocs in the other direction.
Not really my thing.
So I just stuck to the resturant, and had a quite nice fresh salad and bottled water. Nice to have truely fresh vegitables, again. Doulos ones always seem to have a slightly brownish tinge to them… Anyway. I justtified not doing the Fear Factor with the following sylogism (if that is the right word):
Premise) The park will not gain a good reputation by having visitors lose fingers.
Premise) If it were dangerous, then visitors might lose fingers.
Conclusion) It is not dangerous.
So, therefore, you pay the extra 40 Rand or so just for a “thrill” which is in fact, not dangerous, and rather silly. And also, if it was at all dangerous, then I quite like my fingers, and find them quite useful, at times, and so risking them for the sake of saying I had eaten with crocs is intensely silly.
So I didn’t.
Crocs are such weird creatures. The keeper bloke who was showing us around before hand was down in the compound with them and tapped them, and one of them (100 years old this year) roared at him, and snapped at the stick. They are just so primeval! So totally lifeless until roused, and then totally instinctive until they forget, and then back to domant again. And so big! Weird. Weird. Weird.
Anyway. I’m tired. I’m buring a few CDs of stuff.
Bananas, other fruit, yogurt, just usual stuff is so unusual here. I am looking forward to coming home. And yet I know I will miss Doulos too.
About 10 STEPPERs left today. So it will be very lonely now in my cabin. 10 person cabin, now with just 2 people. Myself, and a German new STEPPER, who does not speak so much English, and keeps totally different hours to me. I am going to bed about 11pm, and getting up at 6, or 6.30am, he is in bed by about 9pm, and wakes up about 7.30 or 8am. So, yeah.
Very good on board Sunday Service, extremely good talk/sermon/whatever by one of the pastor/leader/teachers on board about the book of Job. Then afterwards I was able to help set up for the Doulos birthday party, and then get into a clown costume, makeup, and all that.
At the beginning of the programme (it was raining, so we were all indoors), we did a small sketch, which was fun. About 3 minutes. Then after that, I went outside (it had stopped raining) with the other clowns to do some juggling and other entertaining. I spent the whole afternoon out there, juggling, playing with someones very nice poi, and being funny, making people laugh, etc. Clowning is fun. But tiring.
If/when I come back to the Doulos, I would really like to organize or be part of more regular juggling/ circus workshops, or whatever. There used to be some, but now the people who used to do that have mostly left, and there are only 1 or 2 part-time jugglers on board, with not a huge ammount of motivation to practice, except when there is something coming up…
Speaking of coming back… People who join the Doulos for 2 years join in groups, and first have a 2 week or so training time together in whichever port the Doulos will be arriving at. These groups are called “Preships”, and people will mostly still introduce themselves for on-board events with something along the lines of “Hi, My name is David from the Istanbul Preship” or whatever. Preship training happens every 6 months. The end of January/Febuary, and in August/September.
The last Doulos Preship to join (the most recent one) joined actually in Larnaka, which was why the ship visited then. They are the </span><span style="font-weight: bold; font-family: arial;">Beruit Preship. The next one will be Richard’s Bay (South Africa), in less than a month. This is all kind of technical, I know. But the point of it all, was that people don’t really have a whole lot of choice in where they join the Doulos. And I think that if God wants me to join, He is able to </span><span style="font-weight: bold; font-family: arial;">provide the money, and also the flight costs, at that time. Some people have said it all tends to be last minute, with crazy things happening, like having people wanting to support them and telling them in their last 2 weeks before they come, all that kind of thing.</p>
Anyway. About joining, the Febuary 2006 Preship keeps coming up in conversation with people here, as there would still be a lot of people I know and have been working with, many of whom are leaving next August, or September 06.
Also the lady who I met in the airport on the way here, and is the Book-Ex manager from Logos told me that the Jan/Feb’06 LogosII preship will be very interesting to join, as it will be right during the LogosII to Logos Hope change over, people would get a year work on LogosII, in time to move to Logos Hope as experienced crew, and be part of setting the whole mood and new Logos Hope scene, which would be amazing.
I don’t know. We’ll just have to see if it is the right time that God wants me back here, or not. If at all. It’s still 6 months away, anyway. Many things can change in that time.</span>
Some of us STEPPERs went out today to the largest Shopping Mall in the Southern Hemisphere… “Gateway” … You can probably find it on the internet (surely).* Huge place. I felt quite intimidated. I think I have more culture shock at places like that than I do from any place in Mozambique! I mean, it is just so BIG. And so posh, and modern, and all of that.
I think I spent about 15 dollars, on getting there and back (we had to go by taxi, and split the cost), and on a meal (veggi lasagna), and a vegetable curry pie. Lovely lovely food. The veggi lasanga was about 7 dollars, the pie about 1 and a half, and the rest was the taxi… It’s odd, I feel quite bad about using the money for this, but some of the people did say “use this money as you want to…”, and I have not spent a lot of money, comparatively.
Money… strange stuff. Yesterday I was helping on my e-day at that orphanage where they had 50-something kids in a tiny little house, with 2 or 3 kids to a bed, today walking around a Shopping Mall where one single concrete column which is for decoration only, and doesn’t even hold up the roof probably costs more than the entire cost of the orphanage building!
The ship did give a gift to the orphanage, but they had to purposely make it small, as a large gift would be overwelming, or something like that, and would actually do more harm than good.
It’s this whole relativistic thing. One person’s poor is another persons stinking rich, and neither of them is right. Particually thinking of stuff like say the Doulos P.M (private money). Crew get 20 USD per month as personal money. In Mozambique, that is a huge ammount, which can go a huge way, and still leave a lot to be donated at the end of the month, but in Cyprus, 20 USD is 10CYP, which is enough for perhaps 3 gyros, if you go to the right kebab shops, which if you were staying in Cyprus for a month, and wanted to go out and see the place, isn’t much.
Being a STEPPER is a bit different, so many people have said, as we don’t have P.M, we have brought money with us to use… Like, one of the others was telling me today, she is American, and all her friends and family and supporters are expecting (explicitly in some cases) gifts and souveneers from her when she returns. So it is a bit hard for her to get all of these and see everything and do everything.
If you are on for 2 years (or more), you can be more relaxed about things like gifts and so-on. I don’t know… I’ve spent a long time today just sitting in the Mall, thinking about all of these things, about what is right and wrong ways to use money and stuff like that.
For instance, if you are living in a richer country, and want to be able to relate to others easily, then giving all your money to missions and to charity, and living on whatever the minimum you can, and never going out to a mall or movie or whatever is not really going to help. And it is not certainly right in the first place.
How can one know what is good or not uses of what God has given us? Things like the lady who spent a lot of money on the perfume for Jesus’ feet. Or the banquets which Jesus attended, and so on… It really is a very big can of worms. And not very pleasant worms, at that. I’d never really concidered the whole thing very deeply before. I have the feeling that it is going to be another of those vastly complex issues with no Right or Wrong answers again, but which many people claim do have Right or Wrong answers.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >I dunno.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >Many of the STEPPERs are leaving tomorrow. That is why we went out today. It will be very strange seeing them all go. Sunday Monday and Tuesday will probably be the hardest days on board for me. I know for Andrew, from the previous STEP, the days after his group all left were the hardest. For me it is not quite so bad, as another STEPPER is leaving the same day as I, and 2 or 3 are staying on for another month, but they are going to be with their S.P.s, so I probably wont see much of them anyway.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >Listening to a CD of Grieg, while typing this letter in the Library. Such lovely music. “Death of Ase” from the Peer Gynt Suite… I’d say “sadly apropriate” but don’t want to be so morbid.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >It’s interesting, the group dynamics. When we first came on board, the previous STEP were really togeather, strong, bonded, and all of that, and all of us were slightly intimidated, I think, and most of us are quite quiet people (1 or 2 are not), and so it too a while to get to know each other. But I was rather happy yesterday to actually get punched jovially in the arm by one of the quietest girls in the group, who I would never have thought would punch anyone jovially. If another real STEP had arrived last week, they would probably be rather intimidated too.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >I was talking to an Ex-Douloid yesterday, who was on the ship 2 years ago, and I remembered from before. She was saying how she had actually not bonded so much ever with the group of </span><span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >people who joined at the same time as her, but more with her cabin mates, and work colegues.</p>
She said it was very strange coming back to the ship for a few weeks at this time, she was </span><span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >getting to work in her old department, but so many things have changed, and so many new faces. Enough people still remembered her, but she said she remembered other ex-douloids visiting during her time on board as crew, and they had had no-one remember them at all, as everyone had left, and so had been quite depressed and such by the whole experience of visiting, expecting it to be the same, and yet different, and finding it different, and yet the same. No longer being part of the crew in the same way, being an outsider in a place you had been at </span><span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >home for 2 or more years.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >“Abduction and Ingrid’s Lament” now playing. Hm.</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" >Yeah. Anyway. I’ll go and do some clarinet practice, or something. Time passes so quickly, on board.</p>
</span><span style="font-style: italic;font-family:arial;" ><span style="font-family: trebuchet ms;">* Yes. </span><a style="font-family: trebuchet ms;" href="http://www.gatewayworld.co.za/default.asp">Gateway mall in Durban, South Africa</a></span><span style="font-weight: bold;font-family:arial;" ><br /></span>
Amazing days. Wow…
Yesterday, for e-day, we only left the ship at 6.30pm. We went to a Methodist Church for the homeless meal they have every week. We did 2 dramas, someone told their story, and they sang a song too.
Just as we were eating (good food. A kind of vegetable soup/thing with some rice, and white bread.), all the lights went out. The church was quite hi-tech, and they had spent most of the time before that setting up their computer-powered power-point lyric projection for the songs they (the church) had planned for the evening.
I was quite glad the lights went off, actually, in the end, as it meant the whole program was a lot more simple. We didn’t use the music for the dramas, just did them straight. Which IMHO is often the best way. The music does make things seem rather too professional, which in a situation like that, you don’t really want. Many of the people there are in fact believers, but many are still struggling with drug addiction, and other problems, which the church is helping them with.
I was able to talk with one guy quite a lot afterwards, his name is Julian, and he had a broken leg. He was talking about his life, moving to South Africa (from the UK) about 30 years ago. He now does not have a job, since he broke his leg he cannot work, but he had such faith, and trust in God, saying “I really am so thankful to the Lord, He has never let me go more than 2 weeks without work.” And was in fact going back to work the next day.
As he did not have a job because of his leg, he had not been able to pay his rent, and so had been sleeping on the streets for the past few weeks. Talking to him helped me to understand a lot more of why there is still anger and racism. He was quite a nice guy, but in his talking was not friendly towards the Black and Indian people in S.A. During Aparteid, he had had a job, and had been safe walking around in the city after midnight. Now, any time after dark is too dangerous to walk around, and he has no job. He believed that it was because now that Black people have more rights, they want to be in charge, and to squash the Whites.
I was able to tell him that it is not just S.A, and nothing to do with people’s skin colour. Like how we in Cyprus are getting increasing crime and less safe, particually in Lemesos, and that there is now resentment in some Cypriots against Russians, because they believe it is them bringing in the crime. There are elements of truth mixed into all of this, but blind hatred and racism isn’t the answer, of course. We just have to treat all others as we believe Jesus would, and pray about what we cannot.
Anyway, it was quite encouraging to be there, and talk with them all. We had some sweet hot drink at the end. It was so sweet, that I still don’t know if it was tea or coffee. We got back about 10.30pm.
Then this morning, we met at 6.30am, and after praying, went to a hosptial waiting room. Not quite what I had expected. It was like a bus station, or train station. Outside, metal roof, london-style benches. There was someone singing when we arrived.
We then did a programme, talked about where we all were from, and then we did the sticky-chair drama. I really enjoy doing that. I did it last night, and this morning. Both times I got to play the main character, which is so fun. Simple, but fun. It is a bold and clownish story, and so you need to overact and be funny. I think I can manage that. So many drama classes and working at Antidote… I can see now why and how things like “The Frog Prince” were useful…
Afterwards in the car, one of the guys said to me “Wow, that was amazing, I’ve seen the chair drama before, but never quite like that!” And both of the English 40+ year olds on the team called me a “Dark horse”, whatever that means. I so enjoy doing drama and acting, and it’s cool when other people appreciate it.
After someone told their story, and someone else told them about the good news, one of the guys then prayed with and for them, doing the whole “Sinner’s prayer” type of thing, and afterwards, the lady who had been singing when we arrived asked for all those who had accepted Jesus to raise their hands. My goodness. You’d never do that in the UK any more! Or Cyprus.
Anyway. About 7 people did, which was quite a shock to me, and then they gave them copies of John’s Gospel, and told them to come back on Sunday. Every Sunday at 10am, they have a church meeting in that waiting room.
Then we got into the Doulos minibus, and went to an orphanage. It was in fact a small house which a lady lived in. She had taken in a few children from the street about 9 years ago, and now had 50 or so children, from 6 months to 13 or so! We helped to carry in some new beds which one of the churches had just brought, and talked with them a bit.
One of the helpers at the orphanage was Deaf. She was very good at lip-reading, and could speak a little. As we were all hanging around afterwards, waiting for some of the others talking about photos, I asked her (in American Sign) if she knew Sign Language. She signed yes! She told me her name D-O-L-L-Y, and told me that her mother was one of the other people working there. I introduced myself, and said I had learned a little bit of sign. We did not have much time to talk after that, but it was extremely cool to be able to sign to someone all the way out here in Durban!
Anyway. We got back to the ship at half ten, and now will be leaving again at 12:15, so I must rush off to get something to eat. This afternoon we are going to a school to teach some students some dramas and things.
Very exciting days!